The Story of the Rap Ring

Rap Ring

The following story and photo is from Joe Dalmas:

Several years ago, Linda and I were on a road trip through the Eastern side of the Sierras. One afternoon we were climbing on the West side of the Owens River Gorge, in a popular area with several climbs. Climbing behind us was a group of six people, top roping a 5.9. After doing a few climbs in the area, we decided to pack-it-in for the afternoon. As we were getting ready to leave, one of the climbers in the group suggested that we try the climb they had been top roping. He told us that although the climb was short and not very challenging, it had some good moves and was a lot of fun. He even offered to hang around and let us use their rope if we wanted to top rope the climb. I thanked him for his offer, but told him that I didn't want to hold them up and I would like to lead the climb. He pulled his rope and explained that they had been using the slings and ring at the bolts to tope rope the climb.

While the other group packed up their gear and ate power bars, I headed up the climb. When I got to the top, I was a little concerned with the slings and rap ring that had been left at the bolts. The single aluminum rap ring was tethered to two bolts by several ancient slings. Since I wasn't happy with the anchors, I felt a little community service was in order and decided to replace the slings with some steel quick-links and chains. After tying into the hangers with my slings and lockers and lowering my end of the rope down to Linda, I hauled up my hardware and started cutting away the old slings. When I had cleared most of the old webbing, I was shocked by my first clear view of the rap ring. Two deep grooves had been worn into the rap ring by pulling countless ropes. I was amazed that the ring had held and no one had been injured.

When I got to the bottom of the climb and showed the rap ring to the fellow who had offered to let us use his rope, he was devastated. All he could say was "Oh Shit!". The rest of his group came over to check out the rap ring, and a woman in the group really laid into him.

I have been carrying the rap ring with me for several years as a reminder to check every station, and never take anything for granted.

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Copyright ©: 2002, RAHutchins and Joe Dalmas
Revised: April 8, 2002